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Audience gets lucky on Friday the 13th

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/4/2012 (2072 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There really was no better date on the calendar for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to bring its non-Christmas show to town.

The symphonic rock band is best known for its holiday extravaganzas, but was in Winnipeg on Friday the 13th to play its 2000 concept album Beethoven's Last Night, a rock opera about the devil coming to take the composer's soul unless Ludwig Van agrees to hand over all his music, which Satan will destroy.

The story was played out almost like a Broadway show with different vocalists playing the parts of the characters while a six-piece band, eight-piece string section and eight-member backing choir -- who banged their heads in unison -- helped move the story along.

For any of the crowd of 3,500 who didn't know the fictional tale already, a narrator came out between songs and explained how Mephistopheles gave Beethoven an hour to decide what to do and what the deaf composer and his friends, Twist and Fate, eventually did to fool the devil, allowing Beethoven to keep his soul and his music.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/4/2012 (2072 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dan Harper photo
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs its 2000 concept album Beethoven�s Last Night for a Winnipeg audience.

Dan Harper photo The Trans-Siberian Orchestra performs its 2000 concept album Beethoven�s Last Night for a Winnipeg audience.

There really was no better date on the calendar for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to bring its non-Christmas show to town.

The symphonic rock band is best known for its holiday extravaganzas, but was in Winnipeg on Friday the 13th to play its 2000 concept album Beethoven's Last Night, a rock opera about the devil coming to take the composer's soul unless Ludwig Van agrees to hand over all his music, which Satan will destroy.

The story was played out almost like a Broadway show with different vocalists playing the parts of the characters while a six-piece band, eight-piece string section and eight-member backing choir — who banged their heads in unison — helped move the story along.

For any of the crowd of 3,500 who didn't know the fictional tale already, a narrator came out between songs and explained how Mephistopheles gave Beethoven an hour to decide what to do and what the deaf composer and his friends, Twist and Fate, eventually did to fool the devil, allowing Beethoven to keep his soul and his music.

The core of the band features members of the metal group Savatage, best known to old Power Hour viewers as the band behind the 1987 single/video Hall of the Mountain King. The best part of the band was the guitar work of Al Pitrelli and the late Criss Oliva, and for rock fans at the show Friday night the work of Pitrelli and Chris Caffery again proved to be the musical highlight, although violinist Roddy Chong held his own throughout the night and even stood centre stage, trading off riffs with the guitarists.

The most interesting musical moments of the night came when the band blended original compositions with well-known symphonic works by Beethoven and Mozart, whom Beethoven meets during a time-travel portion of the show when he examines his life to see what he could change. Symphony No. 9, Symphony No. 5, Mozart's Requiem, Ode to Joy and Fur Elise were some of the works given a rock overhaul.

The dramatic theatrical score could be a little overwrought, but there was always the show to watch during the musical ebbs.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is known for its multimillion-dollar productions and Friday night they pulled out almost every trick in the book, ensuring audience members who took part in any psychedelic activities prior to entering the arena had something to look at, even though the setup was smaller than the Christmas show.

There were lasers, strobes, pyro and lights that flashed in sync with music. The backdrop featured three giant archways with video screens that displayed everything from videos to clocks to billowing curtains while other video bars hung from the rafters.

It could be quite the sight at times, especial when all features were used one after the other or together during climactic moments.

And speaking of sights, it took a couple of hundred years, but the TSO has finally made Beethoven a rock star in more ways than one: The merch booth contained black tour T-shirts with the composer's image on them.

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

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